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Current Affairs - 27 September 2017

General Affairs 

First Of India's Deadliest Submarine, INS Kalvari, To Join Navy In December
  • As India's navy prepares to commission one of world's stealthiest and most deadly fighting submarines later this year, a top Naval commander has called delays in ship and submarine building "an area of concern".

    INS Kalvari, an indigenously-built attack submarine, was delivered last week, nearly four years behind schedule.

    It is the first of six French-made Scorpene submarines on order in a Rs. 236 billion project awarded to the government-run defence shipyard, Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Ltd. and France's Naval Group.

    The order, placed in 2005, had targeted to reach the first submarine to the Navy by 2013.

    The submarine could be commissioned sometime in November and December after completing a few more trials. One of the dates being considered is 8 December, celebrated as Submarine Day in the Indian Navy to mark the previous Kalvari, a foxtrot class submarine, India's first, which was commissioned into the navy five decades earlier.

    "In our ship building and submarine building, we need to reduce the time frame because as you know, when there is a time overrun, inevitably many a time there is also a cost overrun... this has been an area of concern in all ship-building projects," Chief of the Western Naval Command Vice-Admiral Girish Luthra told reporters.

    He insisted that the delay was not linked to the leak of highly sensitive details about the combat capabilities on the Scorpene submarine last year.

    Named after a deep-sea tiger shark, INS Kalvari is considered a milestone in India's efforts to rebuild its badly depleted underwater fighting force. India has just about 15 submarines, a mix of Russian-origin Kilo class vessels and German HDW submarines. China has four times as many.

    As part of the trials, it had successfully fired an anti-ship missile in March and a torpedo in May.

    The submarine has the capability to launch attacks with torpedoes, tube-launched anti-ship missiles both while underwater or on surface in all theatres, including the tropics, giving it invulnerability unmatched by many other submarines.

    The second submarine, named Khanderi, was launched on January 12 this year, and will undergo rigorous tests and trials in the harbour and at sea, on surface and underwater till December this year. It will be commissioned in the Navy after that.

    With 30% indigenous components on board, the Make-in-India submarine, Vice-Admiral Luthra said INS Kalvari had already spent nearly 110 days at sea doing various trials, weapon firings and acceptance trials.

US Defence Chief Jim Mattis Meets PM Modi, Discusses Enhanced Indo-US Cooperation
  • Enhanced cooperation between India and the US, regionally and globally, in pursuing shared priorities for peace, stability and combating terrorism were discussed when visiting Secretary of Defence James Mattis met Prime Minister Narendra Modi today.

    During the meeting, PM Modi appreciated the close engagement between India and the US on regional and global issues of mutual concern, according to a PMO statement.

    The prime minister recalled his "wide-ranging, candid, and fruitful discussions" with President Donald Trump during his visit to the United States in June this year, the statement said.

    During that meeting between PM Modi and the US president, both sides had reaffirmed their resolve to further develop their strong strategic partnership.

    Mr Mattis briefed the prime minister on the progress in advancing the bilateral agenda and implementing the decisions taken during that visit, the statement said.

    Earlier, Mr Mattis held wide-ranging talks with Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

UN Security Council Must Use Sanctions Against Terror Funding In Afghanistan: India
  • India has asked the UN Security Council to use sanctions regime as a weapon against terror funding in Afghanistan and support the strengthening of the war-torn country's sovereignty and stability threatened by terrorist safe havens across the borders in Pakistan.

    India also asked the international community to ensure that the forces of terrorism and extremism do not find sanctuaries and safe havens anywhere and at any level.

    "We must not differentiate between good and bad terrorists, or play one group against the other. The Taliban, Haqqani Network, Al Qaeda, ISIS, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed and others of their ilk are all terror organisations, many of them proscribed by the UN," Syed Akbaruddin, India's Permanent Representative to the UN, said.

    "The international community cannot remain silent. It is the international community's first and foremost duty to ensure that the forces of terrorism and extremism do not find sanctuaries and safe havens anywhere and at any level," he said in an apparent reference about Pakistan.

    Participating in an open debate of the UN Security Council on Afghanistan, Mr Akbaruddin said that these terrorist groups should be treated like terrorist organisations with no justifications offered for their activities.

    Noting that the situation in Afghanistan has remained particularly painful and disturbing with security worsening and visible signs of withering away of the gains by the international community and Afghan people, the top Indian envoy said that the incessant attacks on hospitals, schools, funerals, or international development agencies, diplomatic missions are a matter of serious concern.

    "The Security Council must act on the funds which the terrorists in Afghanistan are generating through their illicit activities. In this regard, we would like the Council to consider how the 1988 sanctions regime can be utilised and also leverage for progress in the peace process? These are significant instruments and must be utilised to their full capacity," he said.

    "While making our collective efforts here at the UN or at other multilateral settings, we must be mindful to support the strengthening of Afghanistan's sovereignty and stability, the two things anti-Government terrorist elements are trying to undermine from their safe havens across the borders of Afghanistan," he said.

    He said the multiple crises that have been inflicted on Afghanistan had made the country's territory attractive for criminal and terrorist groups, who are well connected to international terror and crime networks.

    "These groups are stealing the resources of Afghanistan which ought to belong to the people of the country," he said. Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani joined Mr Akbaruddin in identifying terrorist safe havens across the border.

    "The scourge of terrorism and violent extremism affecting Afghanistan is the product of a long-standing policy by a neighbouring State to keep Afghanistan unstable," he said.

    "It has menaced Afghanistan for several decades now, with its roots located in terrorist sanctuaries and safe havens outside of my country," Mr Rabbani said, adding that the new strategy of the United States for South Asia has generated new hope among people across the country.

    "In this connection, we welcome the fact that the new strategy recognises the critical need to address the lingering problem of terrorist safe-havens and sanctuaries in our region; and for more determined efforts to end political, logistical and financial support enjoyed by terrorist groups," he said.

    "Furthermore, the strategy's conditions based approach has addressed some uncertainties by reinforcing the right message that the international community's engagement will endure until Afghanistan becomes stable and secure," Mr Rabbani said.

Intrusion By Pak's Border Action Team Stopped In Jammu And Kashmir
  • A major strike by about seven to eight members of Pakistan's Border Action Team or BAT along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir's Keran sector was repulsed by the army this afternoon. The team was supported by mortar and small arms fire by the Pakistani military, Indian army officials said.

    Pakistan Border Action Teams usually comprise members of the special forces of the Pakistan Army and some terrorists. They have known to intrude into India to target Indian soldiers patrolling along the border.

    In today's attack, Indian army officials said the BAT soldiers had aimed to "cause damage" to Indian posts and were "effectively thwarted", forcing them to retreat. There was no casualty on the Indian side.

    The incident took place around 1 pm and Indian forces are responding to the firing started from across the Line of Control in north Kashmir.

    Tuesday's assault came just a day after Army Chief General Bipin Rawat said the army expected infiltrators from across the border to continue coming into India. "Even we are ready. We will keep receiving them (infiltrators) to dispatch them two-and-a-half feet below the ground," he said yesterday. The army had warded off a similar attack by a much-smaller team of BAT soldiers at Poonch in June when it had killed two of the intruders. But two Indian soldiers had also lost their lives in the initial attack.

    In April, two soldiers were murdered and mutilated near the Line of Control. It was suspected to be an attack by the Border Action Team. Weeks later, the Army released a video of a massive fire assault on Pakistani posts on May 23.

Indian Runner Man Kaur, 101, Refused Chinese Visa For Athletics Championship
  • A 101-year-old Indian runner said Tuesday that China has refused to grant her a visa to participate in the Asian Masters Athletics Championships, robbing her of a potential medal.

    Man Kaur, dubbed the "miracle from Chandigarh" after winning the 100-metres gold at the World Masters Games in Auckland in April, had been training hard for the competition at home in Punjab state.

    "I felt very bad when my visa was rejected," she told AFP. "Wherever we used to go we would come back winners and even this time around I was confident of victory.

    "But it's not the end of the road. I will continue training and look forward to competing in future events," she added. 

    Kaur, who took up athletics eight years ago at the tender age of 93, was looking to compete in the 100m, 200m, shot put and javelin categories in the China Masters in Rugao.

    She had no prior running experience before her 79-year-old son Gurdev Singh, who said his Chinese visa was also refused, suggested she join him in competing on the international masters games circuit.

    "We have travelled all over the world, from England to America to New Zealand but never has our visa been rejected," Singh, a permanent resident of Canada, told AFP.

    "The Chinese Embassy said we don't have a personal invite but we carried a letter from the Indian Masters Athletics Association which should have been enough.  "Don't people go to China as tourists, do they need some invite? What problem can a 101-year-old and a 79-year-old create in China apart from competing in the event," he added.

    Singh and his mother will be travelling to Toronto next month where Kaur will be bestowed with the 'Lifetime achievement award' during a function.

    Kaur is one of the nominees for the coveted Laureus World Sports Awards 2017 in the new category - 'Best Sporting Moment of the Year'.

    Singh said "a healthy diet and strict training regimen" kept the mother-son duo in good shape as they eye more medals in next year's World Masters Athletics Championships in Spain.

    "Our body is God's gift and if we don't preserve this, our next generation will be weak," he said.

    The Chinese embassy in New Delhi did not comment on the case.

Business Affairs

GST collection for August 2017 slips to Rs 90,669 crore; revenue expected to rise on account of belated tax returns
  • The tax revenue collected under Goods and Services Tax (GST) for the month of August is to the tune of Rs 90,669 crore. This is the GST paid under different heads for last month collected up to September 25, according to a statement by Ministry of Finance.
    As per Ministry figures, the total CGST revenue for August 2017 stands at Rs 14,402 crore, whereas SGST revenue is Rs. 21,067 crore. The tax revenue collected under IGST came to a total of Rs 47,377 crore, out of which IGST from imports during August 2017 was Rs 23,180 crore. The Compensation Cess collected against demerit and luxury commodities under GST for August is Rs 7,823 crore, out of which Rs 547 crore is Compensation Cess from imports last month.
    The above figures obviously do not include the GST to be paid by 10.24 lakh assessees who have opted for the composition scheme. Additionally, there are still a number of assessees who have not filed their return either for July or August, 2017. The total tax revenue collected under GST for the month of August, as well as July, is likely to increase once the late tax retrun are filed. Any change in the tax collection figures will be publicised in due time, the Finance Ministry stated.
    Taxpayers were supposed to pay their GST as well as file GSTR 3B return for the month of August 2017 by September 20. The total number of tax payers who were required to file monthly returns for August 2017 is 68.20 lakhs. Out of this many taxpayers, 37.63 lakh filed their GSTR 3B returns by the end of Septemeber 25.
    Notably only a quarter of the total number of taxpayers had filed their GST returns for August on the GST Network portal by the end of September 19. Finance Ministry later had to extend the deadline to file GST returns for August and July after the GSTN portal crashed due to heavy traffic. GSTN portal, the IT backbone of the indirect tax regime can process 1 lakh return appliactions every hour, limiting its daily capacity to 24 lakh applications.
    GST was introduced by Narendra Modi government July 1 earlier this year. As per Ministry reports, the total revenue collected on account of GST paid under different heads for the month of July, 2017 upto August 29 stood at Rs 92,283 crore.
    Out of this total GST collection of Rs 92,283 crore, the total CGST revenue was Rs 14,894 crore, SGST revenue was Rs 22,722 crore. The IGST revenue recorded for the first month of GST was Rs 47,469 crore, out of which IGST from imports was Rs 20,964 crore. Meanwhile, Compensation Cess during the maiden GST collection was Rs 7,198 crore, out of which Rs 599 crore was Compensation Cess from imports. Comparing the figures for July and August, there is a marginal decline in the GST collection for the two months.
    Many tax assessees, however, had been filing the returns for July 2017 after the stipulated deadline. Taking into account the delayed payments, the total tax collected as GST under different heads for July 2017 was Rs 94,063 crore.

Hurun India Rich List 2017: Acharya Balkrishna is India's 8th richest; Mukesh Ambani's wealth grew 58%
  • International research agency Hurun on Tuesday released its Hurun India Rich List 2017 report. With a staggering 58 per cent jump in his net worth, billionaire Mukesh Ambani's Rs 2,57,900 crore wealth is 50 per cent more than the GDP of Yemen. Storming into Top 10 for the first time, Patanjali's Acharya Balkrishna has become the 8th richest person in the country after 173 per cent rise in his wealth to Rs 70,000 crore.
    Balkrishna owns close to 94 per cent of Patanjali Ayurved. The 44-year-old CEO of Patanjali has pushed the company's revenues at a rapid pace. Balkrishna has not only encashed upon Baba Ramdev's huge base of followers but also attracted Indian consumers by hitting the 'swadeshi' idea. Balkrishna heads around 34 companies and three trusts associated with Patanjali brand.
    Patanjali has secured a second place in Indian FMCG market share in under 5 years, the report said.
    "It is rare to find a country with such a dominant richest person (Mukesh Ambani) whose wealth is thrice more than that of the no.2 in the list. We have never seen such a wide margin between the richest and the second richest in big countries that include USA, China, UK, Russia and so on," said Rupert Hoogewerf, Chairman and Chief Researcher, Hurun Report Global.
    "The total number of rich list entrants increased 6 times since we launched the list six years ago; a good indication that Indian entrepreneurs are coming of age with global ambitions," Hoogewerf added.
    Hurun India Rich List 2017 had 302 new faces. The sixth edition of the Hurun India Rich List 2017 saw 617 individuals with a cutoff of Rs 1,000 crores, compared to 339 last year. The cut off for the Top 100 has more than doubled to Rs 8,400 crore since 2013, it said.    
    Sun Pharma's Dilip Shanghvi retained the second place despite shares of his flagship company going down by 36 per cent. With wealth increase of 320 per cent, Radhakishan Damani, the new retail king, of Dmart is the biggest gainer in Hurun India Rich List 2017.
    The report credited better than expected corporate results in 2017 for offsetting the impact of demonetisation. Pharma and FMCG sector with their stellar performance doubled the number of entrants to 79 and 63 respectively. Pharmaceuticals dominate with 13% of the list, followed by FMCG and Chemical & Petrochemicals with 10% and 6% respectively. 
    Eklavya Juneja of Mankind Pharma is the youngest person in the list. Juneja owns 12% of Mankind Pharma which was founded by father Rajeev Juneja. Hurun India Rich List has eight self-made women this year, compared to two in last year.
    "The market capitalization of all listed companies is now equivalent to 84 per cent of India's nominal GDP which is the highest in emerging markets. This year, we have expanded the list to highlight the success stories of some of the emerging entrepreneurs" said Anas Rahman Junaid, Hurun Report India, Managing Director and Chief Researcher.
    With 182 individuals, Mumbai is the capital for India's super-rich, followed by New Delhi (117) and Bengaluru (51). Ahmedabad broke into top 5 with 26 new entrants. With 22 and 11 India Rich Listers, Chennai and Kanpur respectively breaks into top 10 cities of residence for Hurun India Rich Listers. Number of dollar billionaires in India also increased to 136 from 126 last year, the report said.
    The combined wealth of India's richest is a staggering $640 billion, equating to 1/4th of India's GDP last year and similar to the GDPs of Switzerland ($660bn), and combined GDP of South Africa ($317bn) & Israel ($340bn).

Rupee hits 6-month low amid uncertainty over India's GDP growth, widening fiscal deficit
  • The rupee today hit six-month low of 65.28 against the dollar. On the account of heavy demand for the US currency from importers and banks, the Indian currency today came down by 18 paise. Last day, rupee had plunged 31 paise to close at a 6-month low of 65.10 after heavy buying of the US currency and concerns on the macro-economic front.
    Here's what has led to current slide.
    • The reports suggest that the recent economic slowdown has hit the sentiment of foreign investors who are beginning to pull out US currency from India's stock markets. India's GDP growth hit three-year low to 5.7 per cent in the April-June period from 6.1 per cent in the preceding quarter. "There is panic among foreign investors on fiscal stimulus and growth," Reuters quoted a dealer at a foreign bank as saying.  
    • To revive the growth, the government decided to introduce stimulus package. By some accounts, the government is thinking of spending Rs 50,000 crore to boost the country's slowing economy. However, the investors believe that stimulus package may be coming at the cost of fiscal deficit. If the government goes ahead with Rs 50000 extra spending, the move could widen the fiscal deficit for 2017-18 to 3.7 percent of the GDP from a budgeted target of 3.2 percent.
    • The Reserve Bank of India's recent data revealed that the country's April-June current account deficit widened to its highest in four years as imports surged. India's current account deficit widened to 2.4 percent of gross domestic product as imports pushed the trade deficit to USD 41.2 billion from USD 23.8 billion in the same period a year ago.
    • News agency Reuters in a report said that the concerns over weak macroeconomic fundamentals has led to foreign investors pulling out dollars from India's stock markets. So far this month, India has seen a net outflow of USD359 million led by a sell-off in stocks. Debt investors are also worried but they are hedging their forex risks while equity investors are pulling out, the report said.

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

    74,650 companies registered during first eight months of 2017
    • According to the monthly information bulletin on corporate sector published by the ministry of company affairs (MCA), around 74,650 new companies were registered during the January-August 2017 period. Of these, a total of 9,413 companies were registered in August 2017 alone. An analysis of registration of new companies during August 2015 to August 2017 indicates that monthly registration of companies has increased after hitting its lowest of 3,994 in April 2016.

      The total number of companies registered in India as on 31 August 2017 stood at 1,687,745. Of them 516,565 companies were closed; 1,084 companies were assigned dormant status as per the Companies Act, 2013; 3 companies have not filed their statutory annual filings consecutively for last two years; 5,953 companies were under liquidation; 29,684 companies were in the process of being struck-off and 114 companies were in the process of being re-activated. Taking the above into account, there were 1,134,342 active companies as on 31st August, 2017.

      In terms of economic activity, over 5,105 companies were in business services, followed by manufacturing (1,012), trading (783), community, personal & social services (783) and construction (549) during August 2017.
      Statewise distribution of registered companies indicates that Maharashtra has the highest number of companies (336,505), followed by Delhi (309,545) and West Bengal (194,398).

    General Awareness

    India third in nuclear power installations: World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2017

    • India has been ranked third in the world with respect to number of nuclear reactors being installed, by the World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2017, which was released in September 2017.
      World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2017:
      i. The lead authors of the report are energy consultants Mycle Schneider and Antony Froggart.
      ii. India occupies 3rd position in the list with 6 nuclear reactors being installed.
      iii. China is in the 20th position.
      iv. The report says that, the number of nuclear reactors under construction has been reducing throughout the world for four consecutive years.
      v. There were 68 reactors in 2013 throughout the world. Now, it is 53 in 2017.
      vi. The report also said, that most of the nuclear reactor constructions are behind schedule due to increase in project costs and delay in power generation.
      vii. There are 37 nuclear reactor constructions behind schedule.
      viii. In India five out of the six nuclear reactors under construction are behind schedule.
      ix. Eight nuclear power projects have been under construction throughout the world for more than 10 years. Out of which, three have been under construction for more than 30 years.
      x. Russia and the US shut down their reactors in 2016.
      xi. Sweden and South Korea closed their old nuclear reactor units in 2017.
      xii. In 2016, nuclear power generation increased by 1.4% globally. Wind power generation increased by 16% and solar power generation by 30%.
      xiii. In 2016, nuclear energy contributed only 10.5 % to the total global power generation. Whereas, renewable energy contributed 62 % to the global power generation.
      About Department of Atomic Energy, India:
      i. Headquarters – Mumbai
      ii. Secretary – Dr.Sekhar Basu
      iii. Minister of State – Mr.Jitendra Singh

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